After 20 years, dept. still ranks at top of its field

The African American studies department celebrates its 20th anniversary.

The program was the first of its kind in the world.

Since 1988, more than 100 Ph.D.s have graduated from the African American studies department doctoral program, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.

Initiated in 1988 by Dr. Molefi Asante, the department is the only one at Temple that offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees.

“Temple was the first university to recognize the need for a research degree in African American studies,” said Asante, who still maintains a position in the department as a professor. “Although there are now 10 programs in the United States, we are still given respect because Temple has provided more Ph.D.s than any other program.”

The core curriculum of the program was initially created in conjunction with the National Council for Black Studies. Social and behavioral and cultural and aesthetic studies are two tracks offered in the department’s graduate program. Students are also required to take certain core courses in order to gain a broader view and understanding of their disciplines.

Molefi Asante initiated the program which was the first of its kind in 1988 (Photo courtesy of

Though there are a total of 10 African American studies doctoral programs in the country, Temple’s department is considered the first in the field by scholars with regard to scholarship, graduate training and service.

Antwanisha Alameen is currently completing her doctoral studies in the department. She was inspired to apply to the program while working on her undergraduate degree at San Diego State University. Alameen was taught by Adisa Alkebulan who graduated from the program.

“It’s been a really great experience so far,” Alameen said. “Temple has always been my first choice.”

Alameen also teaches the Black Woman course, which analyzes experiences and representations of African American women.

Osizwe Eyi di yiye, a fourth year student, said she is glad she decided to attend Temple for her doctorate.

“What is really valuable about this program is the freedom to express your own ideas and to explore your research in a supportive environment,” Eyi di yiye said. “The collegiality among students
is exceptional.”

Eyi di yiye said an exceptional feature of the program is its passionate faculty members.

The department maintains the honor of being the largest African American studies department for undergraduate and graduate students.

There are approximately 20 students enrolled in the program, and more than 1,400 students take courses in the department each semester.

“Students are attracted to our program for various reasons,” said Nathaniel Norment, chair of the African American studies department.

“We focus on the development of African American studies as a discipline in terms of theory, pedagogy, research and methodology.”

The department will celebrate its anniversary next semester by inviting all Ph.D. graduates from the program for a reunion seminar to discuss progress in the discipline of African American studies.

“The future looks bright,” said Abu Abarry, the director of the graduate program. “We hope the administration will continue to support us as they always have.”

Kathryn A. López can be reached at

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